Celebrate the Conservation System in Arizona

It’s been nearly 10 years since the creation of the National Landscape Conservation System – America’s newest system of protected lands managed by the US Bureau of Land Management. That’s all a mouthful to say that it’s been a decade (and sometimes two) since some of the most interesting, most wild, and mostly-unknown special places in Arizona were set aside to protect our rich natural and cultural heritage.

Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument
Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument

I have the pleasure of working daily with many local partners, including the Friends of the Agua Fria National Monument, Friends of Ironwood Forest, Friends of the Sonoran Desert National Monument, Friends of the San Pedro River, Cienega Watershed Partnership, and others, in helping to make sure these treasured places can be enjoyed by future generations.

These are places worth celebrating, and this milestone marks a great opportunity to do much more to ensure the vision of Conservation System is realized. Please join me in celebrating how far we’ve come and in helping us get to where we need to be.

Here’s the listing of activities from the BLM:

The BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) contains some of the West’s most spectacular landscapes. Arizona manages 5 national monuments, 3 national conservation areas, 2 national historic trails, a portion of 1 national scenic trail, 47 wilderness areas and 2 wilderness study areas. These national treasures were designated by Congress or Presidential Proclamation.
We are excited to be hosting a series of events throughout the year and across the state of Arizona to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the National Landscape Conservation System. Arizona is rich in areas designated as NLCS units; National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas; National Historic and National Scenic Trails. So take a look, choose one, or more, and celebrate with BLM these treasured landscapes. Landscapes to conserve, protect and restore.

January

January 8, 2010 – 9:00 a.m. – 12:00; 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Presentations

Grand Canyon-Parashant & Vermilion Cliffs National Monuments: A one-day symposium being planned for Friday, January 8, 2010, in St. George, Utah will feature a keynote speaker and managers’ panel to address the history and establishment of the monuments. Other sessions will highlight research and partnerships.

Contact: Scott Sticha, Public Affairs Specialist
Arizona Strip District Office, 345 E. Riverside Drive, St. George, UT 84790
scott_sticha@blm.gov
435-688-3303/Cell 435-680-0814/Fax 435-688-3358

January 8, 2010
Black Canyon National Recreation Trail Celebration: The 10th Anniversary Outdoor Fair will be coordinated with the January 8, 2010, Trail/ARRA celebration of the Black Canyon National Recreation Trail event, five miles west of the Agua Fria National Monument.

Contact: Rem Hawes, Manager, Agua Fria National Monument
Hassayampa Field Office, 21605 N 7th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85027
rem_hawes@blm.gov
623-580-5532

January 9, 2010 – beginning at 11:00 a.m.
Agua Fria National Monument: The BLM will hold a 10th Anniversary event on January 9, 2010, at the scenic Horseshoe Ranch within the national monument. The Friends of Agua Fria will be assisting in planning, preparing for, and conducting the event. The event will include entertainment, speakers, dispersed lectures, displays and visitor booths, offer activities for adults and children.

Contact: Rem Hawes, Manager, Agua Fria National Monument
Hassayampa Field Office, 21605 N 7th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85027
rem_hawes@blm.gov
623-580-5532
March

March 20, 2010
Ironwood Forest National Monument Public Tours: BLM staff will visit areas of the IFNM to offer information on the various resources in the monument.

Contact: Mark Lambert, Manager, Ironwood Forest National Monument
Tucson Field Office, 12661 E Broadway, Tucson, AZ 85748
mark_lambert@blm.gov
520-258-7242

March 27, 2010
Ironwood Forest National Monument Work Day: Projects being considered include: shooting site cleanup, road repair, buffelgrass removal, and putting up signs.

Contact: Mark Lambert, Manager, Ironwood Forest National Monument
Tucson Field Office, 12661 E Broadway, Tucson, AZ 85748
mark_lambert@blm.gov
520-258-7242

Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area: 2010 is the 20th anniversary of the NCA’s designation by Congress through the Arizona Desert Wilderness Act of 1990 as well as the 10th anniversary of the NLCS.
Gila Box Day. A one-day event will be held on a Saturday in March 2010. It will begin with a series of short presentations on natural and cultural history at the SFO conference room. These will cover topics such as archaeology, history, wildlife, native fish, and recreation. Following the talks, the public can then caravan in their own vehicles to the west end of the Gila Box where people can enjoy their own picnic lunches at the Flying W Group Day Use Area. That will be the starting point for a series of walks; participants can chose one that best matches their interest.
Recreation/Cultural Track: A guided 1.5-mile walk on the Cottonwood Trail will include stops at the Kearny Historical Monument, Serna Cabin, and Bonita Creek Watchable Wildlife Viewing Area, ending at the Flying W and Riverview Campground.
Wildlife Track: A guided foray along Bonita Creek will focus on birding, beavers, and other wildlife that might be seen in the riparian area. A stop at the Bonita Creek Watchable Wildlife Viewing Area and a stroll along the riparian corridor will be included.
Fisheries Track: Participants can visit the Bonita Creek Nonnative Fish Barrier and learn about the nine species of native fish (highest number of any Arizona waterway) that inhabit the creek and BLM’s cooperative efforts to protect them. There will be opportunities to view some fish.
Contact: Diane Drobka, Public Affairs Specialist
Safford Field Office, 711 14th Avenue, Safford, AZ 85546
diane_drobka@blm.gov
928-348-4403
May

May 8, 2010
San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area: The 10th Anniversary of the NLCS will be celebrated on SPRNCA at the San Pedro House in conjunction with International Migratory Bird Day, May 8, 2010. This celebration will focus in on the diversity of these specially designated areas that the BLM manages. Activities will include presentations, displays, and guided and unguided hikes.
June

June 5, 2010
Ironwood Forest National Monument Social Event: A catered, evening social event, potentially at the Heritage Clubhouse in Marana. Short presentations will be aligned to talk about the monument and the NLCS.

Contact: Mark Lambert, Manager, Ironwood Forest National Monument
Tucson Field Office, 12661 E Broadway, Tucson, AZ 85748
mark_lambert@blm.gov
520-258-7242
November

Evening on the Arizona Strip: A closing event the second week in November 2010 would tie into the annual ASIA-sponsored “Evening on the Arizona Strip”. A keynote speaker would be the primary spotlight. The event will likely reflect a pioneer or historic theme as has been a custom of past “Evening” events.

Contact: Scott Sticha, Public Affairs Specialist
Arizona Strip District Office, 345 E. Riverside Drive, St. George, UT 84790
scott_sticha@blm.gov
435-688-3303/Cell 435-680-0814/Fax 435-688-3358
Events Without Confirmed Dates

Brown Bag Lunch Education Programs: The Arizona Strip Interpretive Association will hold regularly scheduled brown bag lunch education programs throughout the year, and several will focus on 10th anniversary themes and topics.

Contact: Scott Sticha, Public Affairs Specialist
Arizona Strip District Office, 345 E. Riverside Drive, St. George, UT 84790
scott_sticha@blm.gov
435-688-3303/Cell 435-680-0814/Fax 435-688-3358

Wilderness Photo Contest: The Lake Havasu Field Office is considering aphoto contest highlighting wilderness areas of the field office or possibly of the district is under consideration.

Contact: Paul Fuselier, Wilderness Specialist
Lake Havasu Field Office, 2610 Sweetwater Avenue, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86406
paul_fuselier@blm.gov
928-505-1204

National Landscape Conservation System Brown Bag Lunch Seminars in the Safford Field Office: The SFO currently hosts monthly talks throughout the year on a variety of topics related to natural and cultural history. These are open to the public and are well attended. Some have also involved field trips. In 2010, these talks will focus on the National Landscape Conservation System. There are eight NLCS units – six wilderness areas, one wilderness study area, and the Gila Box RNCA – within the SFO boundaries and a multitude of topics that can be featured.

Contact: Diane Drobka, Public Affairs Specialist
Safford Field Office, 711 14th Avenue, Safford, AZ 85546
diane_drobka@blm.gov
928-348-4403

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail:
The Painted Rock Petroglyph Site Campground, about 20 miles northwest of Gila Bend, Arizona, is the site of an anniversary event to be planned to recognize the Anza NHT as part of the NLCS. The event would occur in spring or fall of 2010.

Contacts: Rich Hanson, Manager, Sonoran Desert National Monument
rich_hanson@blm.gov, 623-580-5532
Cheryl Blanchard, Archaeologist, Anza NHT liaison
cheryl_blanchard@blm.gov, 623-580-5676
Lower Sonoran Field Office, 21605 N 7th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85027

There is an additional celebration being planned for Sonoran Desert National Monument, which is tentatively planned for December 4, 2010. I’ll provide additional details when I receive them.

A permanent National Landscape Conservation System

Less than two hours ago, President Obama signed into law the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009, one of the most important conservation bills of the last decade. In addition to establishing three new National Park units, protecting 2 million acres of wilderness and 1,100 miles of Wild & Scenic Rivers, the act made an important bureaucratic change – one that may not seem like much on its face, but may indeed play a major role in the future of public lands conservation. It permanently authorized the National Landscape Conservation System, which incorporates more than 26 million acres of the most culturally and ecological important lands managed the Bureau of Land Management. More on the Conservation System in another post. In the meanwhie, you can watch the bill signing below and reading the President’s signing statement.

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Here is the official signing statement:

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 30, 2009

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

Today I have signed into law H.R. 146, the “Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009.” This landmark bill will protect millions of acres of Federal land as wilderness, protect more than 1,000 miles of rivers through the National Wild and Scenic River System, and designate thousands of miles of trails for the National Trails System. It also will authorize the 26 million-acre National Landscape Conservation System within the Department of the Interior.

Among other provisions, H.R. 146 designates three new units in our National Park System, enlarges the boundaries of several existing parks, and designates a number of National Heritage Areas. It creates a new national monument — the Prehistoric Trackways National Monument –- and four new national conservation areas, and establishes the Wyoming Range Withdrawal Area. It establishes a collaborative landscape-scale restoration program with a goal of reducing the risk of wildfire and authorizes programs to study and research the effects of climate change on natural resources and other research-related activities.

Treasured places from coast to coast will benefit from H.R. 146, including Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan; Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia; Oregon’s Mount Hood; Idaho’s Owyhee Canyons; the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado; Zion National Park in Utah; remarkable landscapes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California; and wilderness-quality National Forest lands in Virginia and public lands in New Mexico.

This bipartisan bill has been many years in the making, and is one of the most important pieces of natural resource legislation in decades. This legislation also makes progress for which millions of Americans have long waited on another front. The Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act is the first piece of comprehensive legislation aimed at improving the lives of Americans living with paralysis. It creates new coordinated research activities through the National Institutes of Health that will connect the best minds and best practices from the best labs across the country, and focus their efforts through collaborative scientific research into a cure for paralysis, saving effort, money, and, most importantly, time. It will promote enhanced rehabilitation services for paralyzed Americans, helping develop better equipment and technology that allows them to live full and independent lives free from unnecessary barriers. This legislation will work to improve the quality of life for all those who live with paralysis, no matter the cause.

Section 8203 of the Act provides that the Secretary of the Interior shall appoint certain members of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission “based on recommendations from each member of the House of Representatives, the district of which encompasses the Corridor.” Because it would be an impermissible restriction on the appointment power to condition the Secretary’s appointments on the recommendations of members of the House, I will construe these provisions to require the Secretary to consider such congressional recommendations, but not to be bound by them in making appointments to the Commission.

BARACK OBAMA

THE WHITE HOUSE,

March 30, 2009.

# # #

It’s taken the tremendous and relentless effort of many to pass the NLCS permanence legislation, and far more to pass the Omnibus Public Lands bill. Please join me in thanking everyone who helped make that possible, and in celebrating this momentous occasion.

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

I finally got around to posting some pictures from the quick Sand Canyon hike I took in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument with co-workers in late September. It was a nice little trail that often followed an interesting little bluff strewn with little reconstructed ruins. Since I love wandering around curiously-shaped rock formations and in the present of good company, it was a nice break from the planning and interview sessions that dominated the trip.